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Saturday, 1 July, 2000, 07:33 GMT 08:33 UK
Southern Europe leading the way
Former Scotland coach Andy Roxburgh now leads Uefa's technical study group
Andy Roxburgh now leads Uefa's technical study group
France, Portugal and Spain are reaping the benefits of their youth development systems and England have a lot of catching up to do according to Andy Roxburgh, chairman of Uefa's technical study group.

Roxburgh, who was previously national coach to Scotland and led them to the finals of the World Cup and European Championships, says there is a North/South divide developing in European football.

"The southern European teams have been the ones to dominate at Euro 2000 but it's not by chance, it's rather by design.

"I deal a lot with the youth programmes and France, Portugal and Spain are the top countries when it comes to developing young players.

Rui Costa demonstrated the skill gap over England
Rui Costa demonstrated the skill gap over England
"Thierry Henry and Anelka were part of the coaching organisation. They had it at club level, they had it at regional level and also with the national federation.

"The Portuguese and the Spanish do incredible work with their young players. I think 17 of the Portuguese squad came out of their recent youth teams."

Roxburgh feels that northern European teams, including England and Germany, have been slow to adjust to the increasingly technical style of modern football.

Only recently have the English and Germans tried to redress the balance of power:

We need to have a little more creativity; when it comes to combination play you look at the French and the Portuguese and they're exceptional at it

Andy Roxburgh
"We need to have a little more creativity. When it comes to combination play, for example, you look at the French, the Spanish and the Portuguese and they're exceptional at it.

"They have the knowledge of how to do it and they have the technical ability how to do it."

Roxburgh feels that the English have always had well organised teams, a quality which came to the fore and impressed him in England's 1-0 win over Germany.

But that is no longer enough, and while he feels England do have some technically gifted players, they need to implement fundamental changes to start producing the number of players that the southern European teams are bringing through.

Beckham is one of England's few technically gifted players
Beckham's technique is rare in English football
"People like Beckham and Scholes are really top class. But when it comes to development we're talking much more down the line.

"It's really what's done first of all with children and then with youth players. That's where the intensity and seriousness of development has been shown in France, Spain, Italy and Portugal.

"They have done that in a better way than they have been doing in northern Europe.

"Creativity is something where they've got to be encouraged to work with the ball, not to win games when they're young."

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See also:

24 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Portugal book semi-final place
29 Jun 00 | England
Keegan: I must change my approach
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